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Ally 1.30.1 | Release to production 22 May 2019

Updated Features

Ally 1.30.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused special characters to not be pronounced correctly in the Audio alternative format.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the Audio alternative format for certain Norwegian Bokmål documents to be generated in English.
  • Improved the handling of unexpected REST API and institutional load balancer responses.
Updated Features

Ally 1.30 | Release to production 18 May 2019

New Features

Ally for Websites Alternative Formats

Ally 1.30 introduces the availability of the Ally Alternative Formats for the Ally for Websites integration. This allows all website visitors to automatically access the website’s content in a range of different alternative formats such as ePub, Electronic Braille, Audio, Translated Version, OCRd PDF (for scanned documents), etc. Alternative formats are offered for the web pages themselves, as well as any content that’s linked from or embedded into those pages, such as PDFs, PowerPoint documents and Word documents.

Just like the Ally for Websites accessibility report, the Ally for Websites Alternative Formats are fully CMS agnostic, and only require that a JavaScript snippet is added to the page. As soon as that snippet has been added, the alternative formats will automatically become available for all visitors. There are 4 different ways in which the alternative formats can be exposed on a website, with differing degrees of prominence.

Alternative Formats large ribbon

Alternative Formats small ribbon

Alternative Formats footer

Custom element on your website

For web pages without any linked or embedded content such as PDFs, PowerPoint documents and Word documents, the alternative formats for the web page itself will be offered straight away. For pages with linked or embedded content, the visitor will be able to choose between the alternative formats for the current page and the alternative formats for each of the linked or embedded content items.

Ally 1.30 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Microsoft Word accessibility checklist that prevented Ally from flagging images without a description in a table.
  • Implemented several improvements to the Instructor Feedback guidance in the “Missing Headings” flow.
New Features

Ally 1.29.2 | Release to production 5 May 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Institutional report CSV export

An additional column has been added to the `courses.csv` institutional report CSV export that shows the date and time at which each course was last synchronized. This should correspond roughly with the last event Ally received for that course.

The CSV export for an individual course now also contains an additional column that shows when each content item in that course was checked for accessibility issues by Ally.

Web Community Manager institutional report

The section URL has been added to the list of available sections and the report for an individual section in the institutional report for the Web Community Manager integration.

Blackboard Ally for Websites accessibility report

The “By Month” view is now the default view when accessing the Blackboard Ally for Websites accessibility report.

Ally 1.29.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Spanish Audio alternative format that caused certain characters to be pronounced incorrectly.
  • Implemented several improvements to the instructor feedback flow for malformed documents.
  • Improved the French translation of the institutional report.
  • Fixed a bug in the processing of OLE2 Word documents without a defined `styledescription`.
  • Improved the synchronization of Moodle courses when unable to process an individual content item in that course.
Updated Features, New Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.29.1 | Release to production 16 April 2019

Bug Fixes, Minor Enhancements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented the ePub alternative format from generating correctly for HTML files using UTF-16 LE encoding.
  • Implemented several stability improvements in the Ally for Websites crawler.
  • Ally accessibility indicators are now easier to click on mobile devices.
  • Improved the HTML alternative format to beautify the HTML code output, like line breaks and indentation, making it easier to manually alter the generated alternative format. 
Bug Fixes, Minor Enhancements

Ally 1.29 | Release to production 11 April 2019

New Features, Updated Features

PowerPoint alternative formats

The alternative formats for PowerPoint documents have been improved significantly, especially benefiting the responsive HTML, ePub, Audio and Tagged PDF alternative formats. A number of improvements have been implemented, making the alternative formats for PowerPoint files cleaner and higher quality:

  • Background and slide template images are no longer included in the alternative formats
  • Improved handling of lists and sub-lists
  • Improved handling and extraction of images
  • Fixed a bug where the alternative description for an image wouldn’t always move over to the alternative formats

Course synchronization

A full course resynchronization will now be run automatically every week for each Ally integration. This provides the following benefits:

  • Automatically remove deleted courses from the Ally Configuration UI and Ally Institutional Report
  • Automatically update term associations for courses
  • Automatically update other course metadata, such as the course name, number of enrollments, etc.
  • Automatically include courses without content in the Ally Configuration UI

Ally 1.29 bug fixes and improvements

  • Improved the accessibility check that checks for text in an image and whether that text has a contrast issue
  • Implemented several wording improvements to the instructor feedback guidance
  • Implemented several localization improvements in the Ally institutional report (display of percentages, numbers, etc.)
  • Improved the handling of unsupported file types when uploading a new version through the instructor feedback
Updated Features, New Features

Ally 1.28 | Release to production 6 April 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Ally for Websites scoring

The Ally for Websites accessibility scoring in the institutional report has been reworked significantly to include all pages and content that’s available at a particular point in time. While the Ally for LMS By Month and By Academic Year reporting is based on the content that was added / updated during that month / year, the Ally for Websites By Month and By Year scoring is based on all content that was available during that month / year.

This provides an overall accessibility score across the entire website, making it very easy to identify how a website is currently performing. This is in line with accessibility regulations that require all website content to be accessible, and is slightly different than the Ally for LMS integration that contains lots of “unused” content from previous terms / years.

This means that the starting point for an Ally for Websites accessibility report will always be the current month and year (based on everything available on the website during the initial scan), with additional months and years added to the report as time goes by. This provides an exact measure of how the accessibility score across the entire website is evolving over time and makes it easier to identify when significant regressions were introduced and/or significant improvements were made.

More on the Ally for websites report

New Features, Updated Features, Web Integration, Web Community Manager Integration

Ally 1.27.3 | Release to production 20 March 2019

Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.27.3 bug fixes and improvements

  • When copying a course, content items for which the alternative formats were disabled in the original course will remain disabled in the copied course.
  • Implemented several improvements to the Ally for Websites crawler to better detect when a page has changed.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented certain Microsoft Word Online exports from being processed correctly.
  • Fixed a bug where sub-lists would not be included in the alternative formats for certain PowerPoint PDF exports.
  • Improved the Canvas integration to also show the alternative formats for content linked through a MathML formula.
  • Implemented several improvements for the processing of large content items.
Updated Features

Ally 1.27.1 | Release to production 10 March 2019

Updated Features

Ally 1.27.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Introduced a more descriptive name for the currently selected accessibility issue in the help request emails.
  • Improved performance of the YouTube video caption accessibility check.
Updated Features

Ally 1.27 | Release to production 1 March 2019

New Features, Updated Features, Moodle Integration

Additional Moodle content types

Ally 1.27 introduces the ability to check a number of additional Moodle WYSIWYG content types for accessibility issues, and includes these results in the institutional report.

Support for the following Moodle WYSIWYG content types has been added:

  • Book
  • Book chapter
  • Lesson
  • Lesson page
  • Page content
  • Page introduction
  • Syllabus

This functionality is available for all institutions using Blackboard OpenLMS or self-hosted Moodle institutions using Moodle 3.5 or above and the latest version of the Ally Moodle plugins

https://github.com/blackboard-open-source/moodle-tool_ally

https://github.com/blackboard-open-source/moodle-filter_ally

https://github.com/blackboard-open-source/moodle-report_allylti

Configuration UI in Moodle

The Ally Configuration UI can now be accessed directly through the Moodle administrator interface. The Configuration UI is available through Site administration > Plugins > Admin Tools > Ally configuration.

This feature also requires the latest versions of the Ally Moodle plugins.

Ally 1.27 bug fixes and improvements

  • Added a “Url” column to the course CSV export in the Blackboard Learn and Canvas integrations that contains the download/access URL for each content item.
  • Added a “Url” column to the domains CSV export in the Ally for Websites integration that contains the download/access URL for each web page and content item.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the “Send” button to show in the alternative format “Help” screen when the help request feature was disabled.
  • Fixed a bug in the Learn integration that prevented courses containing content items with blank titles from synchronizing correctly.
  • Implemented several improvements to the list recognition algorithm used for the alternative formats.
  • The Ally for Websites crawler has been extended to make the maximum crawl depth configurable at the institutional level.
  • Improved the Canvas integration to show the alternative formats for links containing a “span” tag.
Blackboard Open LMS Integration, Moodle Integration, New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.26.1 | Release to production 20 February 2019

Updated Features

Ally 1.26.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented pasting text into the WYSIWYG editor in certain scenarios.
  • Implemented several accessibility improvements in the Translated Version alternative format dropdown.
  • Implemented several icon improvements in the Instructor Feedback.
  • Fixed a bug in the Web Community Manager integration where uploading a file with the same name through the Ally feedback component would result in an error.
  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn Q2 2017 release that caused accessibility indicators to be pushed to the bottom of discussion forums.
Updated Features

Ally 1.26 | Release to production 14 February 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Request help

As a follow-up from the configurable help content introduced in Ally 1.23, it is now possible to allow students and instructors to request help from the Ally alternative formats modal and the instructor feedback panel. With this feature, we’re intending to provide an easy bridge between Ally and resources/processes available at the institution already, as well as allowing Ally to be connected to a helpdesk system.

An email address for alternative format help requests can be configured in the Ally Configuration UI. When alternative format help is requested, an email containing the help request and details about the current course, content item and user will be sent to this address. Similarly, an email address can be configured for instructor feedback help requests through the Configuration UI.

The Ally API user for the Blackboard Learn integration needs to be given the "Administrator Panel (Users) > Users" or "system.user.view" permission to allow Ally to include the student name and email address in the help request email. The Ally API user for the Moodle integration needs to be given the “moodle/user:viewalldetails” permission to allow Ally to include the student name and email address in the help request email.

More on configuring Ally help settings

Institutional report improvements

Ally 1.26 introduces several institutional report usability improvements:

  • The comparison with the previous term/month/academic year in “Total courses”, “Total content created” and “Overall accessibility score” has been made clearer.
  • The total number of items with an issue in the “Accessibility issues” list has been made clearer.
  • “Document” has been renamed to “Word document” in the “Total content created” chart.

Ally 1.26 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the highlights for tables without headings to show on the incorrect page in the content preview.
  • Implemented visual improvements for downloading the original file in the Instructor Feedback.
  • The accessibility issue type is now tracked as part of the usage data when clicking the accessibility indicator.
  • Implemented several accessibility improvements in the Instructor Feedback.
  • The accessibility indicator can no longer be copied and pasted into the WYSIWYG editor in the Blackboard Learn and Canvas integrations.
  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that caused the accessibility indicator for a link to overlap with the preceding text in certain cases.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented embedded images from being processed when copying a page from a different course.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the CSV export for a courses with special characters in the course name to fail.
New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.25 | Release to production 4 February 2019

New Features, Updated Features, WCM Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration

Alternative Formats for Web Community Manager

The Ally Alternative Formats are now available for the Web Community Manager integration. Documents embedded in Web Community Manager will show an Alternative Formats icon, giving access to the following Alternative Formats for anyone visiting the website:

  • OCR’d version (for scanned documents)
  • Tagged PDF (for Word, Powerpoint and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files)
  • Mobile-friendly HTML
  • Audio
  • ePub
  • Electronic Braille
  • Translated Version

This should now be available for all Web Community Manager schools that have Ally integrated.

Content Feedback for Web Community Manager

The Ally content creator feedback is now also available for the Web Community Manager integration. When accessing the Ally accessibility report for a site or section, the accessibility indicator for individual content items can be clicked to launch the Ally feedback. This also includes the “Preview” functionality that was made available as part of the Ally 1.24 release. Fixes can be provided directly through the Ally feedback and will be posted back into Web Community Manager.

This should now be available for all Web Community Manager schools that have Ally integrated.

Ally 1.25 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that would occasionally cause the Alternative Formats dropdown to not be visible to students.
New Features, Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.24 | Release to production 28 January 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Previews and highlights

The instructor feedback will now show in-browser previews for PDFs, Word documents and PowerPoint documents. These previews are then used to identify where in the document specific accessibility issues can be found. Highlights are currently provided for these items:

  • Images without an appropriate alternative description
  • Text fragments with insufficient contrast
  • Tables without table headings

The instructor feedback for other accessibility issues will just show the content preview without highlights.

This feature should make it significantly easier to identify issues in a document, and should help cut down remediation time dramatically.

Missing text description

Text contrast

Scanned PDF

Ally 1.24 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Ally for Websites integration that caused the CSV export for an individual (sub)domain to fail.
  • Hidden heading tags are now excluded from HTML accessibility checks.
  • Fixed a bug that caused headings to not be identified correctly in certain Word documents exported from Google Docs.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the language to be misidentified for Word documents that only contain tables.
  • Fixed a bug that caused a small number of “.docx” documents to be identified as “Malformed”.
  • Fixed an encoding issue that prevented certain HTML files exported from Word from being processed correctly.
New Features, Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.23.6 | Release to production 22 January 2019

Updated Features, Web Integration, WCM Integration

Audio alternative format

The audio alternative format is now also available in Polish, Catalan, American Spanish, Mexican Spanish and Colombian Spanish.

Institutional report CSV export

The “courses.csv” file in the institutional report CSV export now includes an additional column for the Course URL, containing a direct link to each course.

The CSV export for the Ally for Web Community Manager integration now also contains a Section URL column, and the CSV export for the Ally for Websites integration includes a Domain URL column.

Ally 1.23.6 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented launching the instructor feedback from the institutional report for courses that don’t have Ally enabled in the Configuration UI.
  • Original files downloaded from the instructor feedback will now use the original file name.
  • Implemented several accessibility improvements in the Configuration UI.
Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.23.5 | Release to production 5 January 2019

Updated Features

Institutional report term ordering

The ordering of terms in the Ally for LMS institutional report has been updated to sort terms that don’t have a configured start date by ascending term id. Terms with a configured start date still sort by that start date.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented several improvements in the detection of characters with contrast issues in PDFs.
  • Reduced the amount of space taken up by the accessibility indicator for images in the Moodle integration.
  • The default Portuguese accent for the audio alternative format has been set to Brazilian Portuguese for institutions hosted from North America.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the total items with a particular accessibility issue to be slightly off in the institutional report for the WCM integration.
Updated Features, Moodle Integration, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.23 | Release to production 14 November 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented downloading of files from the accessibility report when launched through the direct access URL.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented alternative formats generating correctly for tagged PDFs containing empty or invalid tags.

    Alternative formats is only available for WCM clients at this time.

Updated Features

Ally 1.23.1 | Release to production 23 November 2018

Updated Features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented downloading of files from the accessibility report when launched through the direct access URL.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented alternative formats generating correctly for tagged PDFs containing empty or invalid tags.

    Alternative formats is only available for WCM clients at this time.

Updated Features

Ally 1.23 | Release to production 14 November 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Alternative Formats help

Visitors to your site can now get help directly from the Alternative Formats modal. The Help link points to a default Ally documentation page that explains how and when the different alternative formats can be used.

The Alternative Formats modal is only available in Web Community Manager at this time.

Ally 1.23 bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented several improvements to the language detection for Microsoft Office documents.
New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.20.1 | Release to production 17 October 2018

Updated Features

Ally 1.20.1 Big fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the accessibility report CSV export that caused values to show under the incorrect columns.
  • Improved handling of content items that are reported by the CMS as being created in the future.
Updated Features

Ally 1.20 | Release to production 11 October 2018

Updated Features

Institutional Report CSV export

The accessibility report CSV export functionality has been improved to only include columns for the content types that are relevant for the current Content Management System.

Ally 1.20 Big fixes and improvements

  • Improved the stability of the accessibility check that verifies whether embedded YouTubeTM videos have been captioned.
Updated Features

Ally 1.19.4 | Release to production 25 September 2018

Updated Features

Big fixes and improvements

  • Improved the Ally for WCM and Ally for Web integrations to always use a consistent viewport width when checking HTML pages for accessibility issues.
  • Introduced stability improvements to the YouTube caption accessibility check.
Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration

Bug fixes and improvements

Ally 1.19.2 | Release to Production 6 September, 2018
Updated features

  • Fixed a bug where a tagged PDF containing an empty document tag would not be recognized as a tagged PDF.
Updated Features

Accessibility Report

Continuous Delivery 1.19 | Release to Production 28 August, 2018
Updated features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Web Community Manager Integration

The historical “By Year” and “By Month” views in the accessibility report will now show whether an issue detected by Ally has since been fixed.

Updated Features

Bug fixes and improvements

Continuous Delivery 1.19 | Release to Production 28 August, 2018
Updated features

  • Several irrelevant columns have been removed from the Ally for Websites CSV export.
  • Improved encoding detection for HTML content.
  • Fixed a bug where Ally would incorrectly pick up on invisible artifacts such as EMF, PICT and WMF files in Microsoft Office documents.
Updated Features

Bug fixes and improvements

Continuous Delivery 1.18 | Release to Production 22 August, 2018
Updated features

  • Introduced several improvements to the contrast checking algorithm, especially in cases where individual punctuation marks were incorrectly generating contrast issues.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented Ally from successfully checking HTML files with older encoding (e.g., CP1252 instead of UTF-8) for accessibility issues.
  • Fixed a bug in the Ally for Websites integration that removes the number of web pages from the reported number of files/attachments.
Updated Features

Bug fixes and improvements

Continuous Delivery 1.17 | Release to Production 2 August, 2018
Updated features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Web Community Manager Integration

  • Fixed a bug that prevented the Section report in the Web Community Manager (WCM) Accessibility report from automatically updating following a section copy.
  • Fixed a bug in the WCM integration that prevented some dynamically loaded content (through JavaScript) from being incorporated in the accessibility checks for a web page.
Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration

Ally 1.16.7

Continuous Delivery 1.16.7 | Release to Production 22 July, 2018
Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the accessibility report that would cause the reported number of items with an issue in the “By Year” view to be different than the actual number of items listed.
Updated Features

Ally 1.16.6

Continuous Delivery 1.16.6 | Release to Production 6 July, 2018
Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Web Community Manager integration that would prevent deleted pages from being deleted from the institutional report.
Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration

Ally 1.16.4

Continuous Delivery 1.16.4 | Release to Production 21 June, 2018
Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented several accuracy improvements to the contrast accessibility checks for HTML content.
  • Fixed a bug that incorrectly reported “The page contains form elements without labels” errors for HTML content.
Updated Features

Ally 1.16.3

Continuous Delivery 1.16.3 | Release to Production 8 June, 2018
Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented several accuracy improvements to the contrast accessibility check for PDF documents.
Updated Features

Ally 1.16.2

Continuous Delivery 1.16.2 | Release to Production 23 May, 2018
Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Ensure that checking an HTML content item for accessibility issues doesn’t fail when a YouTube video can’t be checked for valid captions.
  • Renamed “courses” to “sections” in the Web Community Manager accessibility report CSV exports.
Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration

Ally for Websites

Continuous Delivery | Release to Production 17 May, 2018
New features

Blackboard Ally for Web helps administrators and content creators ensure their websites are accessible to all.

Building on its longstanding commitment to accessibility, Blackboard Inc. today announced the launch of Blackboard Ally for Web, leveraging the company’s groundbreaking technology to support institutions and organizations looking to improve the accessibility of their public-facing websites. Currently used by institutions worldwide, Blackboard Ally first launched last year as a tool designed to improve the accessibility of digital content within an institution’s learning management system (LMS) and K-12 school district websites.

Blackboard Ally for Web integrates with a website’s content management system (CMS) and scans website pages and embedded media for a range of accessibility issues based on key areas of the WCAG 2.0 AA Standard. The solution supplies comprehensive reporting, allowing web administrators to see their overall accessibility score and trends over time based on how their web environment is performing related to accessibility issues. Users can also pull domain-specific reports, and conduct easy searches to pull up information, including scores, on a particular domain. The website accessibility report also organizes issues by severity level, helping web admins prioritize key areas of focus and deploy resources to the most affected areas. Blackboard plans to bring all of Ally’s features to public websites in the future.

“Accessible websites create a better online experience for everyone, but we know it can be difficult for organizations and institutions to see how they are doing when it comes to web accessibility,” said Nicolaas Matthijs, Product Manager at Blackboard. “We look forward to working with clients worldwide to help them incorporate accessible practices into their websites, so that they’re providing a high quality and inclusive online experience.”

More on Blackboard Ally for Web on the Blackboard website

New Features